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China asks rail firms to ensure vital coal supplies to utilities

Move comes as regions key to the world’s number two economy grapple with power cuts that have crippled industrial output
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Reuters   |   Shenyang, China   |   Published 30.09.21, 03:20 AM

China on Wednesday demanded railway companies and local authorities raise their game in shipping vital coal supplies to utilities, as regions key to the world’s number two economy grapple with power cuts that have crippled industrial output.

 The order, handed down from China’s powerful state planner, comes after a collision of tight coal supplies, tougher emissions standards and strong manufacturing demand has pushed the price of coal, the biggest source of China’s electricity just as winter approaches.

 Thermal coal futures in China hit an all-time high of 1,376.8 yuan ($212.92) per tonne earlier on Wednesday — adding yet more pressure on power utilities unable to recoup added fuel costs. Curbs have been imposed on power use in large swathes of the country, especially three northeastern provinces that are home to nearly 100 million people.

“If there’s a power cut in the winter then the heat stops too,” said Fang Xuedong, 32, a delivery driver in Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning province, about a 90-minute flight northeast of Beijing.

“I have a kid and an elderly person at home, if there’s no heat then that’s a problem.”

 Growing alarm among residents at the power crunch, now in its second week, comes as the state planner — the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) — formally urged local economic planners, energy administrations and railway companies to beef up coal transportation to meet citizens’ heating demand during the winter season. 



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